By Argie Sarantinos-Perrin, PEO C3T MilTech SolutionsAugust 5, 2013
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Aug. 5, 2013) -- The Department of Defense recently released milWire, a new collaborative tool tailored to deliver user generated content, both custom or shared, from milSuite and other DOD websites.
MilWire, an aggregator of news and information around particular topics, enables users to receive targeted information by choosing the people and topics across milSuite they want to plug into and follow.
The information is located behind the DOD firewall, where it is only accessible to DOD employees and is intended to enable discovery of content and news from milSuite and the Internet that may otherwise be unknown.
"With milWire, people can choose to follow me, specifically, or a topic, in general," said Teri Centner, a contractor working as a knowledge engineer for the Joint Staff J-6, who posts to milWire weekly. "So, in this way the audience for my posts is self-selected, but people from across the department can read what I post, even if I've never met them -- that's powerful."
The topics that users post vary and often center on current events -- similar to a news wire feed that sends the latest news. Recent posts direct readers to information about sequestration, cyber security, and the U.S. cyber force, for example.
MilWire is part of milSuite -- a DOD-wide secure site of four collaboration tools that mirror existing social media platforms. In addition to milWire, milSuite also includes milBook, a central hub and professional network for DOD professionals to collaborate in more than 400 working groups; milWiki, a living military encyclopedia; and milTube, a video-sharing platform for the military workforce. MilSuite is provided by the Army's Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical Military Technical Solutions Office, and it is accessible to most DOD military, civilian and contractor personnel with Common Access Card, or CAC, authentication at https://www.milsuite.mil.
In addition to choosing people and topics to follow, milWire users can post content, as well as hyperlinks and embedded videos.
"I try to narrow my posts down to a couple of strategic or analytical sound bites that provide enough information for a quick read and stimulate some thought without having to click on something else, unless you want more detail," said Larry Main, a management analyst for the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, who posts daily to milWire.
Content that is posted on milWire is assigned to a relevant topic. The 15 topics, which range from science and technology to education and training to arts and music, were created from a general list of every military role in the DOD.
Since milWire is part of the larger milSuite community, information is shared across all of the military services. Members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and National Guard are able to share information, regardless of geographic location. Additionally, when users create content in milBook, milTube or milWiki, there is an option to "post to milWire." That allows the information to be shared quickly across all of the applications, increasing its visibility and allowing more people to read and share it.
"Anything that helps the members of the DOD share ideas and information is beneficial, especially if it can cross the boundaries of components and specialties," Centner said.
Recent changes for milWire include "related content" widgets that will help users discover information across the milSuite sites. The milSuite team is also looking into adding feeds to external content that users may be interested in, such as DOD news sources. If implemented, the information from multiple external news sources would show up in a milWire feed, reducing the user's need to patrol multiple sites or rely on email to receive news.
"We're trying to find the best way to integrate external information into the site, since we want the community's contributions to still be front and center," said Tom Curran, product director for milSuite. "And, with milWire, everyone in milSuite can contribute, which is great."